London awards season is in full swing, but one event is set to be more rave than another this year. This is because the Music Industry Trusts Award (MITS) for outstanding contribution to the UK music industry is given to dance music legend Pete Tong.

At the November 1 ceremony in London, Tong will join a roster of previous winners that includes Sir Lucian Grainge, Rob Stringer and Elton John and Bernie Taupin, while New Order, Becky Hill and Norman Jay will perform live to celebrate 40 years. of Tong. career in the sector.

He started out as a club DJ and pioneered dance music coverage on the UK national radio network BBC Radio 1, as well as as an A&R man; founder of the iconic dance label FFRR; help launch the dance music industry conference, the International Music Summit (IMS) in Ibiza; and in front of a series of extremely successful compilations of orchestrated versions of dance hymns (the latest edition, Ibiza Classics, will be released on December 3). Even his name got into the language – the phrase “Everything is gone Pete Tong” has long rhymed slang for “Everything went wrong.” “

Official industry honors have been slow to arrive, but now that all is well, Tong says he sees the MITS award as recognition of the entire dance music scene.

“I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t named as some kind of ambassador for what has happened over the past 30 to 40 years,” he said. Variety. “Dance music has had a little bit of a blow to its shoulder since the disco days, when it was appreciated and celebrated culturally but sidelined in terms of industry recognition. And that has been a driving force for me for a long time, to gain recognition for our industry. What used to be called “It’s just a party” isn’t really that. “

It has been a difficult pandemic for the industry, with many clubs around the world closed for 18 months. According to a 2021 IMS report, the global dance music industry lost a staggering $ 3.9 billion last year. It was still worth $ 3.4 billion, even though it was its lowest level in a decade.

“For the most part, people made their way and survived,” Tong says. “Let’s see what happens when we come out the other side. It’s too early to tell what kind of reset we’re going to see.

“But before the pandemic, there was a lot of talk about the suffering and the closing of nightclubs because they were blown out of the water by large one-off events,” he adds. “So maybe the pandemic is allowing smaller situations to start blooming again. A lot of creative things can come out of these little rooms.

And Tong, who has seen the genre’s ups and downs from the DJ booth over the decades, remains optimistic about the future.

“Creatively, dance music occupies a very important place,” he says. “The baton has been passed on to another new generation, who are super excited about all aspects of dance and electronic music. There is a fresh new entrepreneurial spirit and a lot of great artists coming in. I am very optimistic that the next few years will see another golden age.

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Meanwhile, Tong’s former boss at Radio 1 is determined to take on streaming services in his new role.

Ben Cooper, a former controller of the influential BBC network, is now responsible for content and music for British commercial radio group Bauer Media Audio. He oversees dozens of stations which, according to the latest figures from Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR) – back after an 18-month absence caused by the pandemic – have reached a record 20.6 million combined listeners in the UK. United during the third trimester.

Cooper says he plans to leverage the size of the group to deal with growing competition from streaming companies in the radio / audio world. The first fruits of the new approach came when Bauer hosted Coldplay’s comeback concert on October 15 in London at 13 of its stations in eight different European countries, reaching a potential audience of 40 million people.

“Bauer is Europe’s leading commercial radio operator, but he’s never used his scale like this before,” says Cooper, who booked Coldplay for his very first live appearance on the BBC in 2000. “We didn’t ‘ve never used this collective creative force. . Coldplay liked the idea of ​​doing something that has never been done before – they’re always looking to innovate and change.

Cooper says he’s been approached by several high profile artists and managers looking to do something similar since the broadcast, but says Bauer’s network of stations may provide pan-European opportunities for other types of content as well, from documentaries to viral videos.

“We can use our scale as a European broadcaster to reach out to the biggest artists in the world and work with them in a new way,” he says. “We can broadcast to America and the world through social media, and if we can get creative ideas, they will pass. That will allow us to go there with ‘Saturday Night Live’ and ‘The Late Late Show with James Corden’ and have a seat at the table.

Bauer also took inspiration from the streaming playbook by introducing ad-free subscription services for some of its more specialized genre stations – a sweeping move for a commercial broadcaster that relies on advertising for most of its revenue. .

“There are certain corporate antibodies that you have to overcome,” laughs Cooper, who says the listening hours among subscribers have increased dramatically. “But I like Bauer’s ambition to be able to say ‘No, let’s try this’.”

And Cooper says his commercial radio revolution is just beginning.

“The main thing is that we are open for business,” he says. “We have a new attitude and a new creative ambition. We want to work with artists, managers and labels in new ways and seek those firsts. “

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Meanwhile, the fallout from the recent Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports parliamentary committee investigation into music streaming continues.

In its official response to the Committee’s damning report, the UK government asked the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to decide whether a market study should be carried out in the music streaming industry. And CMA has now come forward to say that it would prioritize such a study.

This has been welcomed by all sides of the debate, even the BPI body labels. But, while the committee’s initial request was for the CMA to examine what the report calls the majors’ ‘market dominance’, CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said the study would examine whether the streaming industry “Is competitive, successful and works in the best interests of music lovers.

Indeed, CMA market research typically examines ‘why particular markets may not work well for consumers’ – an issue that was not really raised during the DCMS committee investigation (£ 9.99 per month for all the music in the world being a pretty decent deal for the fans, after all). Instead, the focus has been on whether artists and songwriters are paid fairly under current terms, with the committee recommending a “complete reset” to how the sector operates.

This means that the first battleground will likely come when the AMC establishes the exact scope of its study. This work should start shortly with sources telling me that the study will be launched “as soon as possible”.

Once the areas to look at have been decided, Variety understands that submissions will be solicited from a wide range of interested stakeholders. CMA studies typically take about a year to report and could ultimately make recommendations to government on changes in policy and legislation; encourage companies in the sector to self-regulate; launch a more serious market investigation; take enforcement action against companies; or simply give the sector a good health check. Which means that at least another year of lobbying and campaigning is looming for the industry before anything concrete emerges.

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Another of the government’s recommendations was that a “music industry contact group” be established to discuss the Committee’s recommendations.

The first meeting of this group took place earlier this month, sources tell Variety the first session was productive, despite tensions between opposing parties which meant it was the first time they had sat around the same table since the start of the great streaming debate.

However, some key players were absent. Sources tell Variety the government has decided that only recognized professional industry bodies, rather than individuals or companies, should participate in the group. This meant that no major labels were present (although they are represented by the BPI), and that the #BrokenRecord campaign, led by musician Tom Gray, was also absent (although the Musicians Union and the ‘Ivors Academy, who run the #FixStreaming side campaign, are part of the group). Other interested parties who are not members of commercial organizations – such as Hipgnosis and Apple Music – will not be represented.

This first meeting was largely about areas the group is expected to discuss in the future, but the next session will likely be livelier as the debate begins in earnest. Stay tuned…

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Politics of a different genre have been blamed for the UK’s dismal performance in the Eurovision Song Contest in recent years.

But for the 2022 competition – to be held in Turin, Italy, next May – post-Brexit Britain is pulling out all the stops to try to avoid yet another “zero points” horror show. It has been announced that the management company behind Dua Lipa, Lana Del Rey and Ellie Goulding, Tap Music, will lead the search for this year’s entry.

Tap co-founder Ben Mawson pledges to “use Eurovision to authentically reflect and celebrate the rich, diverse and world-class musical talent for which the UK is world famous”, while the co-founder Ed Millett says Tap is “incredibly focused on finding a truly special act that creates excitement for the UK – both in the run-up to the finale and beyond.”

Tap’s offer has already been backed by Dua Lipa and Elton John – although they will be able to persuade a similarly-sized superstar to risk their reputation by flying the flag in 2022 remains to be seen.


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